Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sustainability Saturday - Whines and Dilemmas

Today, after visiting two farmer's markets here in upstate NY, taking an exercise walk (3 miles) with some wildflower photography, making a trip to buy a couple of little gifties for a baby shower, I ended up in our local botanical gardens to check out the old and new fashioned roses in bloom.  Now I'm tired and whiney, and want to write a post that incorporates a couple of things that have been on my mind lately regarding sustainability and the buy local? or is it ever OK to buy imported? questions I struggle with.

At the Vestal, NY farmers market, the main items for sale were lettuce, radishes, peas, local strawberries, honey, garlic scapes, eggs, and - tomatoes???  I would be surprised if these were local hothouse tomatoes because they were as pale as a supermarket tomato normally is.  I wonder where they were from.  Maybe he does tell customers where they are from, and if I was less introverted, I would have asked.  Maybe he sells them as a convenience.  Maybe I'm making excuses for the vendor.

I saw someone selling peaches and those are NOT local, no way whatsoever, not in June.

There are customers, I am sure, who would buy produce from a farmers market that is still a month away from being available locally. I am not one of them.  I do not purchase in farmers markets if it is not local.  Period.

The second question is a question of quality. This year, local strawberries are not good.  On the other hand, I can get excellent strawberries from California, trucked over 2,000 miles, "fresh", to my local supermarket.  This is a local supermarket chain, headquartered in Rochester, New York.  That local supermarket provides about 600 jobs, many part time, but still jobs, to our community.  Do I buy the farmers market berries?  Or the supermarket berries?  I hate to say it, but so far, the supermarket berries have won.

At the other local market, at Otsiningo Park, I ended up with some more whines.  I bought a heuchera from this vendor last week, and was hoping she had a columbine.  She didn't.

The man who was selling sorrel last week had it again - but the weather was warmer, I was an hour later, and the sorrel was very wilted.  It's a tender plant - I hope he finds a way to put his sorrel in a cooler next time.  The schav (an Eastern European cold sorrel soup) my spouse made from last week's purchase was wonderful.  I had my taste buds set to indulge in some ice cold sour schav again.  Well, if that is the biggest disappointment I suffer this weekend, I can count myself fortunate.

My next stop was the Ravenwood Gardens booth.  But, to my disappointment, she did not have the herbal insect repellent I love.  Two more weeks, she said.   It was still steeping.  That was good to know - it means it is truly - shall I use the term? - artisan.

VINES, a very worthwhile urban gardening organization, didn't have anything we needed, which was too bad.

But a good day all in all.  The sun is shing.  What could be better than that?

Would you buy non local food from a farmers market?  Would you buy from a supermarket if the quality was superior to the offerings of the farmers market?


  1. The only produce our local (Fairbanks) farmers market has yet is lettuce--and it sells out immediately. Still mostly crafts and starter plants. Oh, we do have rhubarb. Safeway does have "local" tomatoes (from a greenhouse in Anchorage, but at over $5 a pound.

  2. Yes, I buy produce from the supermarket if it looks to be better quality than what is available at our farmers' markets. You are right that the strawberries from California have been good. Yesterday, though, I did buy a 4 quart basket of local strawberries that I am happy with. However, I also paid twice as much as I would have in that supermarket with its headquarters in Rochester!

    A smaller, locally owned grocery store in our town has "local" peaches already, from southern New Jersey (Does four hours away constitute "local"? I don't really think so.) They were rock hard, but I bought a couple to see how they were. Unfortunately, they rotted before they ripened. : (


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